Annoyed Librarian
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Inside Annoyed Librarian

And Good Riddance

It’s not that unusual to get comments on very old posts, though I have to wonder why someone would bother to comment on a two-year-old post unless it was still relevant somehow, such as my post on the Cambridge Who’s Who scam, which still gets a couple of comments a month, but not necessarily from librarians.

But Courses I Wish I’d Had in Library School? I’m not even sure how people stumble across some of these old posts, but someone did this week, and they did not like what they found. Because I like making fun of people who don’t like this blog, I’ll quote the comment from "Anonymous" in full:

"I have been thinking of becoming a librarian, but after reading these posts and this exceptionally nasty blog, there is no way I would do so now. The Annoyed Librarian mistakes sarcasm and cruelty for perception.

If you really all hate your jobs so much, why don’t you do something else? Then again, stay where you are so I don’t have to deal with you."

I reread the post. It didn’t seem cruel or sarcastic to me. I really could have used those courses in library school. Nevertheless, I was trying to get into the mindset of the commenter. This is a person who’s thinking of becoming a librarian, but changes her (let’s just assume it’s a her) mind based on reading one blog, and one that is explicitly dedicated to criticism, satire, and mockery? What can we infer from this?

It could be that’s she’s not very careful about research and evaluating evidence, in which case we definitely don’t need her in the profession. If someone thoughtful was considering becoming a librarian, one would think they’d read more than just the Annoyed Librarian. They could go to all the Sunny Librarian blogs and find nothing but niceness and gooey-hearted handholding.

Or maybe it’s the undeniable fact that there are disgruntled librarians. Maybe this person works in some field where everyone is always happy andgruntled . If so, then my suggestion would be to stay with what you’re doing, whatever that is. Not all librarians are happy all the time. What a surprise.

Or maybe it’s that the AL gives these disgruntled librarians a space to vent. The very presence of a library blog that isn’t always perky and promotional seems to bother some librarians. They’re the ones who leave comments or email me occasionally angry that anyone would even write stuff like this, because, you know, it’s so negative, and we wouldn’t want that. If this commenter is the kind of person who doesn’t like dissent, then it’s just another reason we don’t need her in the profession. There are already enough librarians who try to stifle their opposition. And frankly, anyone who has such an emotional reaction to the Annoyed Librarian probably has some mental health issues to deal with, and we definitely don’t need any more crazy librarians.

The second paragraph is the one that really cracked me up, though. That "love it or leave it" mentality is always so ridiculous, whether it’s some rube with a patriotic bumper sticker on his pickup truck or some librarian who gets angry at criticism. Why don’t we do something else? Hmmm.

First, that assumes that we hate our jobs. Is not being positive about everything in the profession the same as hating it? Do we all have to be addle-brained, upbeat sales people all the time? Many librarians over the years have responded to the AL, saying if I don’t like librarianship I should just leave it. But what if the thing I don’t like about librarianship is the sort of people who say things like that? Who gets to claim this profession? Only the Pollyannas? I don’t want to leave; YOU leave! The leap from "You have complaints" to "You should leave the profession" is just dumb. How logical is this person? And do we really need more illogical librarians around?

I’m staying where I am, and I’m sure it’s a relief to the commenter that she won’t have to deal with the likes of me and my other commenters . I’m sure we feel the same way about her. Plus, think of the financial benefit we all get. One less person deciding to go to library school means one less person to compete with in the shrinking job market. Library schools and the ALA have done their best to over-recruit for the profession. We really don’t need yet another hungry mouth to feed, especially a mentally disturbed, illogical one with poor research skills.

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Comments

  1. retrenchent angle says:

    AL says: “The leap from “You have complaints” to “You should leave the profession” is just dumb. How logical is this person? And do we really need more illogical librarians around?”

    This is a good point. It takes a really insecure person to think that criticism (even if conveyed through satire) can never lead to anything constructive. AL’s made clear that she (if she really is a “she”) has chosen satire as the means to convey ideas. If people can’t take it, they should ignore it. A lot of the material in this post would have been relevant to John Buschman’s complaints earlier this year.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Let’s hope this person did not read the comments to the latest US World NEws and Report touting librarianship as one of the best jobs of the year. Those commentators were even more disgruntled than the average AL poster.

  3. Dan Kleinman of SafeLibraries.org says:

    “Illogical librarians”? I know Star Trek just opened, so are the illogical librarians the human ones?

  4. Original Library Cynic says:

    ” Library schools and the ALA have done their best to over-recruit for the profession. We really don’t need yet another hungry mouth to feed, especially a mentally disturbed, illogical one with poor research skills.” It may be that this is someone who was given “the Pitch” about a library career by somebody at one of those ALA accredited schools recently, and you just smashed the illusion. It can be disturbing to some people to think that anyone with an advanced degree would lie to and try to scam them. Better to let them know than find out the hard way, after incurring massive student debt, and have no job to show for it.

  5. Simply Annoyed says:

    “Let’s hope this person did not read the comments to the latest US World NEws and Report touting librarianship as one of the best jobs of the year. Those commentators were even more disgruntled than the average AL poster.” What issue/where is this? It seems that US NEWS is another place that was given a pitch by ALA, if this be the case. Maybe they should REALLY look at the situation without their blinders on. I’d be curious if someone did some good old fashioned investigative journalism here, instead of taking matters at face value.
    Then, perhaps someone will write a tearful book exposing the disgusting details after leaving East Huron. Look at the folks doing it already. There’s a former Gov. of NY, and…..

  6. Dances With Books says:

    Indeed, that is the sort of people we don’t need. I went back and read the library course post. Great stuff, and I am disappointed that library schools (or whatever they are calling themselves now since they are dropping the “L” like a bad habit) have not picked up on the great course ideas.

  7. Dr. Pepper says:

    LOL – you don’t need the annoyed librarian to turn you off working for a library. All you need to do is look at job descriptions, see “ALA MLIS required” and notice the salary. Then go to 10 MLIS schools, look at the required curriculum, look at your cost, and then (if you are smart) realize that you are paying for fluff. Some schools, like Simmons, have quite a few interesting courses in their course catalogs, but by the time you are done with the required Bullstuff, you only have 2 courses as electives…unless you want to extend your stay and pay more. But of course someone like that probably wouldn’t make it through library school cause it’s too hard LOL

  8. CUZ says:

    Where do gruntled librarians go to bitch and moan?

  9. Picard says:

    They go to things like the Unconference where they sit around and nominate each other for Movers, Shakers, Shovers, Movers, Librarian of the Year etc.

  10. Cynic says:

    They go to meetings and conferences about “e-science” lol where they are shocked to find out that they need subject matter expertise, not just the MLIS lol

  11. whatever says:

    I don’t think we want this person as a librarian with that sort of “positive” attitude.

  12. TralfazB says:

    Agree 100%
    While I don’t enjoy my job, I don’t hate it enough to take the huge paycut required to make a move to another profession.
    I no longer encourage young people to join this profession.

  13. Post Postmodern Librarian says:

    I find most people entering library school believe the job will be easy and full of reading. The classic “I love to read so I should be a librarian!” So now days when I people ask me about library school (especially those going through the certain Texas program) I point them right to this blog. Take the wind out of them. Make them realize that like all professions there are problems that will effect or affect them at one time or another. If they still want to be librarians after this then I support them as much as I can.

  14. I Like Books says:

    “Love it or leave it”… amazing how many people don’t realize there are at least two other, very valid, options– change it, or bitch. Although some of those people saying “love it or leave it”, rather than leaving, seem comfortable with proposing constitutional amendments to ban the stuff they don’t like.

  15. RantingIsEasy says:

    My criticisms of the AL blog are:

    1) It takes the easy way out. Posting rambling rants is easy; writing a concise and well written piece of criticism is hard.
    2) It’s not satire. Satire is a craft.
    3) I rarely see suggestions or alternatives, which are also more difficult to come up with than rants.

  16. I Love To Read So I Should Be A Libraria says:

    Professors and associates of a profession always promote it as if attracting students to it is an intrinsic good. My first exposure to the phenomenon was the shortage of scientists and engineers. After obtaining my degree, and conducting research to find out why I couldn’t get a job, I found out there never was a shortage and there’s been a surplus for a long time, but there are those that want to deliberately build a surplus in case of unanticipated future need. And, of course, more graduates means employers can pick the best and leave the rest to pay off their student loans on a McDonald’s wage. And the “related career paths” seem more the exception that build on additional credentials that don’t seem to be discussed in the industry rags or the BLS reports. I’ve seen numerous articles on “We must reverse the declining enrollments in…” without examining *whether* they should, and whether the students know something about it.

    I’m actually pretty well convinced that the academics and those cloistered in government labs are sincere enough; they simply have no clue. But I can fault them for not trying to obtain one.

  17. Mr. Kat says:

    Cynic commented:

    They go to meetings and conferences about “e-science” lol where they are shocked to find out that they need subject matter expertise, not just the MLIS lol

    Or they discover that the sciences view the Library as nothing more then a big ILL Delivery service in the sky, there to deliver clean scanned copies of journal articles within a couple hours of any article request, with absolutely no reverence or respect AT ALL for ANY research skills the librarians may have in the science fields, and this Includes the reference desk.

    ;)

    I’ve been on the Inside of this one – It’s fun to listen to the science pH.Ds talk about the library – especially when they’re drunk!!

  18. Mr. Kat says:

    RantingIsEasy commented:

    My criticisms of the AL blog are: 1) It takes the easy way out. Posting rambling rants is easy; writing a concise and well written piece of criticism is hard. 2) It’s not satire. Satire is a craft. 3) I rarely see suggestions or alternatives, which are also more difficult to come up with than rants.

    It is my observation thus in life that
    1) The “Easy” way out is not cognition about X but rather ignorance about X, the state of fluttery happiness about X ALL the time with absolutely no clue about failings of X.

    2) Niegh like a horse, Satire is Art. The fact that we have to use Satire to make criticism is telling of how thick blind ignorance [see 1.] is in our society.

    3) Those who require immediate solutions or alternatives alongside legitimate critisim fail to understand the nature of the problems in discussion. Part of this problem is becaude they fail to see any problems in the first place. [see 1.] If there were easy bandaide solutions, then the problems would already be solved and the Annoyed Librarian Would Not Exist.

    (3) is like telling a cancer researcher “Yes, you found the cancer and you keep writing about it; now why can’t you cure it?”

    The “Don’t offer criticism unless you can offer real solutions” is just another line of defense by the status quo to further stifle any opinion contrary to the sunshine and moonbeam policies of already in place. If you never know you had cancer, you die peacefully, right?

  19. Ms. Realistic Librarian says:

    I love the AL blog. I am a fairly new librarian, but I’ve been working for many years. Like many of us, I came into this profession as a second career.

    To the critic of AL who changed her mind about becoming a librarian: Please do some research on the field. Yep, there are pros and cons like any other job. You would know this if you bothered to do your homework. You don’t want to work with her? Well, I don’t want to work with you. It’s obvious that you would provide half-ass answers to patrons, and we librarians who know how to do our job well don’t want you anywhere near our books, databases or patrons. Go bag groceries.

  20. RantingIsEasy says:

    Those who require immediate solutions or alternatives alongside legitimate critisim fail to understand the nature of the problems in discussion. Part of this problem is becaude they fail to see any problems in the first place. [see 1.] If there were easy bandaide solutions, then the problems would already be solved and the Annoyed Librarian Would Not Exist.

    I believe the ranting is easier for the establishment to ignore than a few pointed criticisms and new ideas. The new ideas would help highlight how ossified and pre-occupied with maintaining the status quo organizations like the ALA are…

  21. Em4Tango says:

    This sort of attitude seems endemic lately, the idea that people (especially women) should be constantly chipper and positive. Like we should all be Pollyanna ALL THE TIME. That we should act as though the world is constructed from spun sugar and fairy dust and nothing bad ever happens. Well even Pollyanna knew that we face problems in life. I think if people are honest with themselves they’ll admit that problems aren’t solved by pretending they exist.

    Personally I am damn tired of people who live this way. If I am unhappy, angry or hurt why should I hide it? It doesn’t make me feel better. It simply protects those around me from suffering momentary discomfort. While I don’t want to get up on a soap box and get all righteous, the cheerful police need to stop trying to assimilate the rest of us. I am not Borg.

  22. Mr. Kat says:

    RantingIsEasy commented:
    I believe the ranting is easier for the establishment to ignore than a few pointed criticisms and new ideas. The new ideas would help highlight how ossified and pre-occupied with maintaining the status quo organizations like the ALA are…

    Spitting out the Status Quo party line of why we should all ingnore criticims without real alternative plans, aye?

    I realized something as I wrote that post as I was puttign that part in there about the cancer researcher. You see, people don’t want a cure to [persay, lung] cancer because we already have one: DON’T SMOKE CIGARETTES. But that’s not an acceptable solution – what these people REALLY want is a little pill that cures their lung cancer whent hey get it so they can go RIGHT BACK TO PUFFING THEIR CIGARETTES!

    And this Status Quo group doesn’t really want the solution; they want a quick fix that makes the problem go away for the few that have them and advance on with their perfect utopia because there so nothing wrong with the field whatsoever.

    So you see, the Status Quo doesn’t want to hear the cure, because we already know the cures. The Cure to the library school problem is simple: eliminate half of them outright and cut the rest by half throughout. Tell the world the TRUTH about hiring AND wages in the library field. That alone will reduce your library school influx by at least 3/4ths right off, because educated people make decisions that are only as good as the information to make their decisions – and when library schools are publishing volumes of “LIBRARIAN SHORTAGE” and it is back by a professional organization like the ALA, [this setup has serious weight in SOME fields] OF COURSE you’re going to end up with high recruitment numbers!

    The solution is to retain the librarian skillset and put it back to the AA degree level that it is, hence taught at the minor level or by the community colleges.

    If you Must have librarians with higher education, then insist that they have an ALS in Library Science or a minor in Library Science accompanied by a four year degree in a serious degree program of study. Your public libraries would then be seeking undergrduates with degrees in psychology and public service; academic libraries would be seeking people with graduate degrees further denoting a real knowledge in a particular subject that should translate to a fluency in research methods and resources in that subject, a skill easily translateable to new subjects.

    Library science is NOT a serious program of study for the vast majority who are in the program! if we remove the deadweight and the fluff, in both content and student, then we end up with a proper graduate student to advisor ratio, thus enabling proper research relationships to develop.

    But if we did all of this, everybody with a job and an MLS in Library Science would lose their job security, library schools everywhere would close, there would no longer be an easy master’s degree to put all the academies on par with the rest of faculty ["har har, on par??" says the real faculty] and a librarian shortage might actually become a reality. But then again, I don’t think that shortage will EVER become a reality, even if this happened.

  23. NotMarianTheLibrarian says:

    One doesn’t make a lot of money, but being a librarian is the best gig I’ve had. I mostly enjoy my work but there are days I would like to strangle our students, faculty, staff, and my co-workers. Thankfully, those days are rare. And if anyone is interested, a librarian friend in Virginia (not far from D.C.) says she’s seen a number of librarian positions in the paper recently.

  24. HumanExperience says:

    Em4Tango – AMEN. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

  25. Kim says:

    NotMarian — I graduated three years ago; almost everyone in my class and the class after me found jobs in the field or in related fields, and like me enjoys what we do. Some of us found jobs before we graduated, but the economy wasn’t in the current shape. Doesn’t mean that there aren’t schools out there misrepresenting (particularly some of the all online schools) the field to students. Having checked out some of these old posts was hilarious, however. I loved the course suggestion on learning to deal with the cat lady.

  26. Auntie Nanuuq says:

    “This is a person who’s thinking of becoming a librarian, but changes her (let’s just assume it’s a her) mind based on reading one blog, and one that is explicitly dedicated to criticism, satire, and mockery? What can we infer from this?” This is good, because I don’t want to work with her!

  27. NotMarianTheLibrarian says:

    Em4Tango – boy howdy! You are so right. It can get right tiresome trying to be chipper day in and day out. Expected 30 years ago and expected today. There are days I want to say “bite me!!”

  28. Picard says:

    I think we can safely infer that this person is a library school professor or library director pretending to be a would be library school student.

  29. mytwocents says:

    I understand that many are having a bad day/week/month/year or just in a fowl mood, but that is no excuse to act rude towards others when you work in a public-serving enviroment. You might feel like chewing someone out, but its just common decency to at least be hospitable. It’s not being a carpet; it’s being human.